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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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A testament of political bankruptcy

Government legislators who joined the committee stage debate on the Budget on Friday told Parliament that the main Opposition UNP should be ashamed of their inability to field their own Presidential candidate and to pick the SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena as the Common Opposition candidate for the upcoming Presidential Election. Government members described it as a clear testimony of Opposition's plight.

UPFA Parliamentarian Arundhika Fernando who joined the Budget debate was critical about the decision taken by the main Opposition due their political bankruptcy. The MP in a hard-hitting speech made on the floor of the House described Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the most crafty politician in this country.

Citing an example the MP recalled how Wickremesinghe in a shrewd manner brought Sarath Fonseka as the Opposition Common Candidate at the last Presidential Election knowing that he would definitely lose the election. The MP made the point that if the incumbent Government is toppled, the main Opposition UNP should come forward to oust this Government. However, MP Fernando regretted that Minister Sirisena was caught in the Opposition's trap.

The MP in his speech tried to convince the Common Candidate that there was an international conspiracy to destabilise Sri Lanka. He told the House that he is worried about the political career of Minister Sirisena. He said that the Minister would be a loser due to this sudden political decision taken by him.

He pointed out the pathetic situation faced by some politicians during their political careers who nurtured similar dreams. Minister Sirisena would also face the same destiny. The MP also commented on the initiatives taken by the President to end the three-decade terrorist war and the severe hardship faced by the people in Polonnaruwa, Welikanda and Dimbulagala.

The MP was of the view that whoever quits the SLFP, it will not collapse. He said earlier also similar conspiracies were hatched in and outside Parliament. The Party would be further strengthened when this kind of conspiracy is hatched. MP Fernando said those who have left the Government with Minister Sirisena have done so targeting personnel perks. There are also a few corrupt politicians in the Government, steps should be taken against them. The MP was confident that those who love their motherland would rally round like one family to safeguard the President.

Deputy Health Minister Lalith Dissanayake who joined the committee stage debate aired his views on the Opposition's failure to find their own common candidate. He said two SLFP candidates are going to contest at the forthcoming Presidential Election. Being in the Opposition for 20 years, he challenged the UNP to field their own candidate. Whoever is taken from the SLFP, President Mahinda Rajapaksa would definitely win the next Presidential Election.

During the committee stage debate, some Opposition members also expressed their views on the decision taken by the JHU to resign from their ministerial portfolios. UNP Parliamentarian Nalin Bandara Jayamaha told the House that the JHU quit their portfolios as they cannot remain in this Government according to their conscience. The MP noted that the entire country has awakened due to the strong message given by the JHU. MP Jayamaha said that they are happy about the decision taken by the JHU to safeguarde their self respect. However, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne who joined the debate said the JHU deserting the Government would make a difference to the competition but it would not affect in anyway the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The absence of Technology and Research Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka during the debate on his Ministry turned into a central topic in the House due to remarks made by Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga. He told the House that for the first time in Sri Lankan parliamentary history, an expenditure head of a ministry was taken up during a committee stage debate without the subject Minister or the Deputy Minister. Amaratunga pointed out that the situation occurred due to the resignation of Patali Champika Ranawaka from the Technology and Research portfolio.

There is no Deputy Minister appointed to the Ministry of Technology and Research. The MP queried as to how the expenditure heads of the Ministry would be passed. Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who responded said that crossing over of MPs and switching alliances were the usual scene during budget debates.

The Minister pointed out according to the provisions of the present Constitution which is a brainchild of the UNP, once a Minister resigns from his or her post, the portfolio is automatically under the purview of the President. If any MP has a question with regard to such a ministry, the Prime Minister, Chief Government Whip or Leader of the House would respond to that question on behalf of the President.

Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga once again requested the Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva to table in the House the full text of the opinion of the Supreme Court with regard to the eligibility of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to seek re-election for a third term. The Minister who responded to Amaratunga' s query told Parliament yesterday that the Government was not bound to table the full text of that opinion given by the Supreme Court. Minister De Silva said according to the provisions of the Constitution, if a bill is challenged before the Supreme Court, its determination is sent to the Speaker and he informs it to the House. The Chief Opposition Whip should study the Constitution as he is also a lawyer.

The ups and downs in the sports sector turned into a much debated topic on the floor of the House during the expenditure heads of the Sports Ministry. Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera who joined the debate was critical on the manner in which the National Olympic Committee (NOC) conduct its affairs. The Minister said the NCC which engaged in fraud and corruption with the blessings and cover-up of the International Olympic Committee should be summoned before the parliamentary watchdog, COPE. Minister Perera alleged that the NOC has ruined the image of the country by taking arbitrary decisions.

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage who responded to the queries raised said that the highest investment on sports has been made during the tenure of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The President as a Leader who loves sports has always allocated sufficient money to bring sports to the villages. Earlier the total amount allocated for the Sports Ministry was Rs.500 million. At present this has increased to Rs.6500 million.

The Minister said for the first time in history, a National Policy on Sports has also been drafted. The Minister also referred to the query raised against the NOC said that they have been trying to sort out the mess in the NOC for years. But whenever they try to make use of the powers, there are some officials who go after international bodies and exert pressure on us.

DNA Parliamentarian Arjuna Ranatunga who participated in the debate said Minister Mahindananda Alutgamage should accept the responsibility of the losses experienced by the national cricket team which had been sent to play in India, to make the Indian Cricket Board happy. Ranatunga said we have succumbed to the pressure of Indian Cricket Board and the Sri Lanka Cricket has become a den of thieves. The Minister said we never expected to win all the matches in India. It was wrong when MP Ranatunga tried to shift the blame and responsibility of the loss on the Sports Minister.

The tour was decided after the Select Committee, the players and the Captain of the Team agreed to tour India. It is so natural that we win and lose matches in a tournament. We have maintained the morale of the players by providing everything that they asked for.

Deputy Postal Minister Sanath Jayasuriya said that players could make various statements when their morale is low after being beaten by other teams. The players know their mistakes. "I as the Chief Selector accept the full responsibility for the loss we experienced", he said.

 

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